Beginner Fly Fishing Gear Checklist

Beginning Fly Fishing: What To Buy

Fly fishing is a fun and unique form of fishing that requires more beginner fly fishing gear than a typical fishing trip. If you are a first-time fly fisher or you have been doing it for a while and finally want to invest in your own fly fishing gear, having all of the right equipment can make the entire experience more enjoyable and easier.

At our Colorado fly shop, we have a store full of all the beginner fly fishing gear you will need to start your new hobby. If you are just getting into fly fishing, we also have Estes Park outdoor gear rentals, allowing you to try out this fun sport before going all in. And if you need a little extra help, we offer Estes Park fly fishing lessons and classes in which we show you how to properly rig your rod, tie knots, select the appropriate flies, read water, how to cast, and how to catch trout.

If you are interested in buying or renting fly fishing gear, we want to make sure you get everything you need, and don’t forget a single item. In this blog, we are going to go over a checklist of the beginner fly fishing gear you need for your new hobby. Read on to learn more!

a graphic that describes all the gear you need to get started in fly fishing

Beginner Fly Fishing: Fly Rod

Probably the most important piece of beginner fly fishing equipment you need during your outdoor adventures is the fly rod. Without it, you would have a very difficult time catching fish. There are three different types of fly fishing rods that you can choose from — fast action or tip-flex fly rods, medium action or mid-flex, slow action or full-flex. Which rod you choose depends on your skill level and preference.

Along with the different types of fly rods, there are different lengths and weights that you can choose from. The fly line comes in weights between one to 14 and beyond. These weights are measured by units called grains and the weight of the fly line affects the casting precision and control. Many beginners start with a 9-foot 5-weight rod. We could talk so much more about fly rods and how to choose the right one, but we will save that info for another blog. Our experts at Kirks Flyshop can help you find the perfect fly rod for you, the waters you will be fishing in, and the type of fish you will be fishing for.

Fly Reel

The fly reel is another extremely important piece of fly fishing gear. Without a fly reel, the fly rod is useless. The reel is what holds the fly line, balances the fly rod, and allows you to fight fish. The fly reel and rod work together to present the fly to the fish in a unique way. Like the fly rod, there are a variety of reels to choose from. This piece of fly fishing gear comes in different arbor sizes, different drag types, different weights, and different designs.

Fly Line

Fly lines are essential when it comes to fly fishing. Without the fly line, you are just swinging a rod around in the air like a crazy person. As we mentioned above, the fly line is weighted. When you are choosing your fly line weight, you will want to make sure that you choose the right one for the flies you are using. This will help maximize precision and control you have when casting.


The flies are the bait. They are designed to imitate insects, baitfish, and other fish fodder. There are five different categories of flies that you can choose from. These fly types include dry flies, wet flies, streamers, poppers, and saltwater flies.

Dry flies are fished on the surface of the water. And imitate adult insects like stoneflies, grasshoppers, and mayflies. Wet flies are fished below the surface and tied to imitate insects in their pupal and nymph stages. Streamers are large wet flies that imitate baitfish, crayfish, and leeches. Poppers are fished on the surface of the water and involve quick twitches. These flies imitate frogs, mice, and baitfish. Saltwater flies are any flies used to fish for saltwater fish like Bonefish or Tarpon. Most saltwater flies are wet flies and are used to imitate baitfish or crustaceans.

Choosing flies can be difficult but our Colorado fly fishing guides can help you figure out which fly type is best for your fly fishing adventures.

Fly Box

While fly boxes may not be the most important piece of fly fishing equipment, they can really help you stay organized and ready to go at any time. Fly boxes allow you to store, organize, and transport your flies. As you start collecting fly fishing gear, you will want to make sure that you add a fly box to your list. This will help you stay organized from the get-go and make the entire experience better.

Wading Boots and Waders

Fly fishing requires proper footwear. You can either choose wading boots or waders, or both! Wading boots offer a safety feature while fly fishing. These boots have a lot of traction, which allows you to walk across wet rocks and other slippery surfaces with ease. Since fly fishing requires you to be on your feet for hours, you want something comfortable. Wading boots can help keep you comfortable throughout the day and allow you to worry about the fish and not your feet.

Waders are great for keeping you warm and dry if you are walking into the middle of a river to fly fish. If you plan on standing in water while fishing, these are necessary. Even during 100-degree days, the water you are fishing in can quickly numb your feet and legs. Waders can keep you comfortable and fishing for hours.

Pack or Vest

There is a lot of fly fishing gear that goes into this new hobby. Being able to carry everything with ease can make your time fly fishing much better. A pack or a fly fishing vest can be a perfect choice. A fly fishing vest is easy to wear and includes a ton of pockets that allow you to store different items needed on the river. This piece of equipment is a great choice for making your fly fishing adventures easier.

Some More Beginner Fly Fishing Gear

The fly fishing gear listed above is some of the most important pieces of equipment you need for your fly fishing adventure. However, there are many other pieces of equipment you may want to add to your collection as well. Some of these include:

  • Leaders and tippets
  • Nippers
  • Clippers
  • Net
  • Hiking stick or staff
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Water

The list goes on and on! Whether you are new to the fly fishing hobby or you have finally decided to invest in your own equipment, this checklist should help you get started. If you need help figuring out what you absolutely need, be sure to ask one of our fly fishing experts at Kirk Flyshop in Estes Park! We will be able to help you find the right equipment and answer any questions you may have. You can buy or rent gear from us and sign up for a fun and exciting Colorado guided fly fishing trip, where we will show you the best fly fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Contact our Colorado fly shop to learn more and get started collecting your fly fishing gear!